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A Mobile Science Lab In Gadchiroli Aims To Bring Back The School Dropouts

· A mobile science lab project is helping tribal students in Naxal-affected district of Maharashtra · Project Vigyan igniting scientific temperament among kids · The Mobile Science Laboratory is catering to 16 Ashram Schools
Indian Masterminds Stories

A big bus with scientific and mathematical formulae painted all over it rolls down a muddy road in the forested area of Gadchiroli to a waiting audience of young tribal children whose inquisitiveness knows no bounds.

Till last year, the administration in this Naxal-affected region of Maharashtra had seen a high dropout rate in the Ashram schools (the residential schools that impart education up to the secondary level to Scheduled Tribes children). 

But not anymore. Project Vigyan’s (PV) mobile science lab has made all the difference. 

Mobile Science Lab Van

JADU KA PITARA

Not only are the students of 16 Ashram schools getting complementary lessons into Darwin’s evolution, ISRO’s reach into outer space, but also about carbon sequestration, soil regeneration and water recharge-like subjects that will eventually become more meaningful as the carbon credit markets and bio diversity markets take off.

Most of the dropouts before January 2023, when PV was yet to be implemented, were due to language barriers but all that has been tackled by two Integrated Tribal Development Projects (ITDP) officers from the 2019 batch — Assistant Collector Etapalli Shubham Gupta and Assistant Collector Gadchiroli Mainak Ghosh.

Inside view of mobile science lab

SCIENTIFIC TEMPER

To increase curiosity among the children topics like Astronomy, and connected equipments have been included. A curriculum has been developed regarding climate change that will be the first of its kind in the country, Mr. Shubham Gupta tells Indian Masterminds.

“Our initiative was to develop a scientific temper. The core idea was to initiate curiosity among the kids. They must understand basic science and question everything. It is a positive sign that children are taking keen interest in PV and are happy,” said Mr. Gupta.

2019 batch IAS officer Shubham Gupta, Asssitant Collector, Etapalli and Project Officer, ITDP, Bhamragad, Gadchiroli district

INSPIRATION

IAS Shubham gives credit to a 1990 project of Vidnyanvahini, a non-profit organisation that began a Mobile Science Lab for students around Pune.

The Project Vigyan bus of 2023 moves from one school to another with a stop over period of a week.

The bus houses a science lab with equipment like telescope, resistor, test tubes besides a

television that shows videos and documentaries. Three teachers, who call themselves “fellows” work closely with the students. 

No regular teachers were appointed instead “The Teach Climate and Science Fellowship’, a 12-month opportunity for those who wanted to work with IAS officers were given the opportunity.

Children watching videos in mobile science lab with lot of curiosity

SUCCESS STORY

Under the project for a year, the students will have the chance to experiment on topics related to physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, climate change, and ecology.

The officers put stress on climate change as it is a reality that the GoI is also actively working to tackle.

With PV, the language barrier has ended, the practical methods have helped students to grasp knowledge easily.

Science practical for students

Mr. Gupta said, “This project was started with the dual purpose – that children should have knowledge of science and also learn their language.”

The project is currently operating in Dhanora, Etapalli and Bhamragad blocks of Gadchiroli district. 

Mr Shubham Gupta said, “If it becomes successful in a place like Gadchiroli, then this innovation can improve children’s education in the entire country.”

2019-batch IAS officer Mainak Ghosh, Assistant Collector and Project officer, ITDP, Gadchiroli

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